Asus Zenbook review: First Look

Reviews 12 Oct, 2011

Has Asus managed to beat Apple at its own game? IT Pro checks out the launch of the latest challenger to the MacBook Air, the Asus Zenbook ultrabook.

Verdict: 
The Asus ZenBook has a lot of promise and it'll be interesting to see if it lives up to its stated five hour battery life. Both the UX21 and UX31 will be available on October 21st, so it's likely to beat rival ultrabooks from Acer and Toshbia to market. Even better, at £849 inc VAT for the 11in model and £949 for the 13in version, the Zenbook either matches or undercuts Apple's pricing for the MacBook Air range. We would be lying if we said we weren’t tempted. We'll bring you a full review as soon as we can.

The MacBook Air is our favourite ultraportable laptop thanks to its excellent battery life, low weight and incredibly slender yet sturdy design. Until now there's been little to match it if you're determined to stick with Windows - a situation Intel hopes its ultrabook initiative will fix.

Asus has just announced the Zenbook, one of the first ultraportables designed under Intel's Ultrabook brand, and we got the chance to try one out at Asus' London press conference.

There is no question the ASUS Zenbook has been inspired by the good work of the late Steve Jobs. The 11in version is incredibly lightweight – weighing in at a mere 1.1kg – so it won't strain the shoulders of the mobile worker on the move, whilst the attractive aluminium casing will never leave you with that horrid feeling of inadequacy when sat in a room full of Macs.

The 11in UX21 sitting on top of the larger 13in UX31.

It is pretty, no question, although you will have to make sure your fingertips are clean for all the marks they will make on the smooth-to-touch brushed metal casing.

Even the lid of the Zenbook likes nice.

The specifications, regardless of whether you opt for the 11in UX21 or the 13in UX31, are almost identical. Both have 4GB of RAM and 128GB SATA3 SSDs.

The Zenbook is very thin.

The difference comes in the processor, either an Intel Sandy Bridge Core i5 for the smaller version and a faster i7 for the larger 13in model. However, for those of you waiting for Windows 8 and Intel’s upcoming Ivy Bridge chips, the head honchos at the Zenbook launch promised there will eventually be touch-capable models.